Masterchef is a cooking competition. But, Gordon Ramsay’s presence, energy and artistry elevates it to be more than that. It inspires the contestants to elevate their performance. And, it entertains and inspires viewers all over the world as they watch these home cooks transform into artistic chefs.

The Pike place fish market is one of Seattle’s popular tourist spots. It is a fish market which has huge difficulty dealing with the volume of applications of people who want to be part of its staff. A fish market with a different sort of recruitment problem! Growing up in India, we were taught to associate fish markets with chaos, dirt and smell. When John Yokohama (reluctantly) took over ownership in 1965, it was still just a fish market with most of those associations. He decided he would elevate it into something much more than that. And he did.

Soccer or, football outside the US, is just a game played by a bunch of people kicking a ball around. It is unlikely that the folks who first created a game out of kicking a ball around would have imagined the sort of following soccer inspires. Thanks to the artistry of generations of players and a legion of smart entrepreneurs, the game became much more than a game.

All three of these are mass market examples. Most people have heard of soccer. Many have heard of Masterchef. Fewer have heard of Pike place fish market. There are many examples of people and organizations in our communities that have taken something seemingly commonplace and made it much more than that.

Every time I come across one of these examples, I am reminded of the fact that things are never what they seem to us on first glance. They can always be a lot more than that. We just have to learn to look at things and people with an eye for their potential. When we find something that looks devoid of inspiration, we can choose to elevate it. It doesn’t come easy. It often requires us to swim upstream. But, choosing to do so consistently not only changes us for the better, but it also transforms those who engage with it.

This isn’t about doing the big things. This is about doing the small things with extraordinary love.

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